On decoupling

I’m finally up for the task of taking the wedding photographs out of the frames I put them in 18.5 years ago.

I’m tearful, but handling it okay.

I’m handling the pictures carefully, almost reverently, and paying attention to the hopeful glow that once graced our faces.

Who would have known the marriage would have been fraught with so many challenges, which neither of us were adequately equipped to handle?

Coming from divorced parents, I knew marriage was hard. I knew I wasn’t sure I was up for the challenge and almost elected not to get married.

We both came from dysfunctional families of origin.

And in the early days, that made us cling to each other all the more. It was us against the world, an attitude that was part of the problem as we kept much of our problems hidden from other people, who may have been able to give good counsel, before things got a helluva lot worse.

Slowly, over the years, difficult events started eroding our connection. We tried, in various ways, to revivify the marriage, which helped us temporarily reconnect and block out the problems, but eventually too many events happened that stacked the deck against us.

We couldn’t reverse the damage we’d done to each other.

I know we tried. We tried hard.

But sometimes, no matter how hard you want something to work out, it just doesn’t.

This process of decoupling and coming to terms with all that’s happened in my life hasn’t been easy, and I suppose it’s not supposed to be easy.

But I also know that doing this now will make it easier to move forward.

Even after all this pain, I know that I’m still hopeful.

I’m willing to get rise back up after falling down hard.

I have some wonderful new friends.

I have a wonderful new partner.

We are putting to good use the lessons we’ve learned.

The biggest lesson we’ve come to learn is this:

Kindness matters.

With it, a great deal of life’s difficulties can be alleviated.

And I want to do my part to be kind as others have been kind to me during this sometimes glacially slow process of digging out from under.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

On learning and growing

There was a facebook meme a friend of mine posted today that resulted in a conversation I want to record here.

The original meme was this:
*
“I have this stupid f*cking desire to fix broken people because I understand them and wish that someone would come along and fix me so that I could maybe that person for them.” 

There was some thoughts shared and one in particular between another woman and I which I liked very much.   I wanted to share it here, so a) I know where to find it again, and 2) as a reminder to myself.

Me:  I don’t see people as broken or not or in need of fixing or not. There are people who want to grow, and others who aren’t ready to. If someone is dedicated to learning from their experiences and is committed to growing as a person, they will be the kinds of people you want to keep in your circle. When you are committed to learning and growing, you will start recognizing these types of people. When you are committed to learning and growing, you will start valuing how you spend your time and your resources. Take this time and learn what it is you need to work on.
*

Most people have shame-based core issues that they need to confront and heal (for example, if you feel unlovable, not good enough, not important, defective, unworthy of good things/love/money/success etc). Start with those basic things. Shame is the #1 obstacle to growth. Shame keeps us from leading our best lives. It holds us back in innumerable ways and it’s why we procrastinate or shy away from good opportunities. Shame is also the biggest reason people turn to addictions – both substance addictions and “process addictions” (addictions to gambling, eating, spending, sex, work, emotional drama, and I might add, helping other people, too). Anything we continually use to help us avoid looking at and working on our own areas of shame can be considered an addiction.

You can be kind, you can lend a supportive ear, but you can not heal someone else’s shame-based core issues any more than they can heal yours. That’s an inside job.

A: I don’t usually think in the terms stated in the original post that started this whole conversation. I’m quite a bit deeper than that so I truly do appreciate your thoroughness. Thank you for that depth. 

Me: You are very welcome. I’ve been on a path of learning and growing for many years now. Different sources say the same thing. There are different approaches to getting at these core issues, but the beauty of it is that as long as a person wants to learn and grow, they can. They will find the approach or combination of approaches that will work for them. There is no right or wrong way to do it. We can encourage each other to keep going when the going gets tough, but the hard work is done on one’s own.

And oh, yeah, the concept of “broken” vs. “whole” can be an obstacle, too. When progress doesn’t happen fast enough, some people will get discouraged and feel they are “too broken” to heal. Which is a dangerous notion and which is why it’s much better to ditch the whole concept of broken/whole. We need to integrate the experiences that cause us to feel shame, that’s all. It’s recognizing that regardless of what you’ve done or has been done to you in the past, you aren’t defined by those experiences.
You are still worthy of good things.
****
And yes, I am.
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

On Love

 photo DSC_7674.jpg[I was able to celebrate Christmas Day with my sweetheart Grant]

A friend of mine and I were texting recently. He was surprised to see how “quickly” my husband and I could fall in love again with other people.

I can’t speak for my husband. I can only speak for myself.

Just because he and I didn’t work out doesn’t mean I stopped loving people.

I didn’t fall out of love with with my husband.

I still love him. Just in a different way now.

I don’t live with him anymore. And sometimes we have a hard time getting along as we co-parent our children.

But I still love who he is as a person. Because for all the difficulties and pain in our marriage, he still deserves love. From me, from his girlfriend (though admittedly my ego has trouble with that at times).

But I am, by and large, a loving person.

I love not just one person, but everyone, most especially those who are warm, kind and loving. I even try to love the people who aren’t so kind and so loving, who are bitter, and judgmental and closed-off, but I definitely do not keep company with them. I no longer stay where I’m not wanted or stay where I will be mistreated.

But there are some people I can meet just once and have such a remarkable feeling of kindredship with that there is no question I’m going to be able to love that person more dearly than some others. Because of how loving THEY are and how good it feels to let love flow instead of damming it up or hoarding it just for one person.

That’s not what Love is.

Love is not a commodity to be hoarded, but a gift to be given away anyone who wants or needs it.

It’s easy to be affectionate and loving towards a person like that. It doesn’t mean I will have a romantic relationship with that person. Just that I will love them and how they are in the world.

Someone who is so kind and open-hearted and loving will get me to embrace them with kindness and a loving, open heart right back.

They ask nothing in return. They just love because it feels good to love.

People like this just make it so easy for you to love them.

And I met someone just like this, who reminds me every day that no matter what came before, I am not my mistakes, and whatever trials I face, I don’t have to face them alone. Someone I love in more than just a platonic way.

Someone who shows me, day after day, that he is there for me consistently. Who teaches me every day what healthy relationship and communication is supposed to look like.

And so yes, if my friend is so surprised at how “quickly” I could come to love again, then it’s a shame, because it seems that person doesn’t know how Love works.

Love heals. Love transforms. Love never fails, though people often fail each other.

Love is the same in all of us. We are merely the conduits of Love.

And if we don’t feel loved, if we can’t love so easily after loss, it’s not because Love went away. It’s because we armored our hearts against Love.

It is surprisingly easy to love when you don’t shut Love out.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Getting in the Christmas Spirit – Part I

This is my first Christmas in over 20 years without my husband. But while I get pangs of sadness, like when I realized he wasn’t going to be able to take the Christmas decorations out of the attic for us Thanksgiving weekend, it’s not all bad. I’m making an effort to get out and enjoy the Christmas season.

Last Wednesday night, while my new partner was rehearsing for Scrooge in a musical version of A Christmas Carol, I took his daughter and my youngest daughter (who are within 6 months of each other), out for dinner and to look at the decorations in our local communities.

The historical courthouse in a nearby town was decorated with colorful lights.

 photo DSC_7447.jpg

 photo DSC_7457.jpg

My daughter and his daughter having fun together.

 photo DSC_7460.jpg

This outdoor ampitheater in another local town is beautiful. Over the summer, my love and I listened to a free symphony orchestra play for us while we had dined alfresco.  What a magical night that was!

 photo DSC_7490.jpg

The tree lighting ceremony for this tree is coming up soon. I can’t wait!

 photo DSC_7491.jpg

It’s been a difficult few years, but I’m determined to not let the sadness intrude too much this Christmas season.

One of my young actor acquaintances was feeling blue.  He posted on his Facebook page:

When I was young I saw the world so vividly and brightly colored, but with every year it gets just a little more gray.

I felt compelled to write this response:

Jake, it takes a bit of effort, but you have to go out and create your own magic. What I found as a amateur photographer is that there is so much in this world that is beautiful. You just have to learn to look. I’ve taken photographs of dragonflies on a blade of grass, frogs peeking out of algae-covered pond water, and majestic White Egrets and Blue Herons mid-flight. I’ve been captivated by these breathtaking moments of Nature.

I began to pay attention and really see the world. I began to see there is beauty in an old falling apart gray barn, as well as beauty in the juxtaposition of shadow and light.

I began to appreciate the sun so much more after having seen the skies darkened by clouds.

And though I really hate winter, I love going out on my front porch at midnight after a snowfall when the moon is out. The world really becomes a white wonderland. And the snowflakes on my railing glisten like diamonds.

And then there’s all the candid shots of people I took when they weren’t looking. I have some beautiful shots of people being playful and being beautifully serene and being sweet with each other.

You can take a look at my photo sets on FB to see what I mean.

And I dare you to learn some art journaling. Part journal, part art project, using paints, colored pencils, pens, and even watercolor crayons. And I know that not many men would think about doing that, but there are indeed a few men out there who do.

Don’t wait for the world to bring you the color you wish for. Go out and look for it or create it yourself.

You are such a sweet young man, and a wonderful actor. Don’t let the hard parts of life cause you to forget there’s still so much that is beautiful.

And as I reflect on my life, and re-read this passage to my young friend, I am in wonder of my own wise Self. I wrote for myself as much as for him, to keep in mind my own intention and needing to be compassionate with myself and to be the light and the hope that I seek.

I am in between Christmas traditions.

I know what we’d done for the past 14 years with the children since we’d lived in this house.

And while I get pangs of sadness and heartbreak because I don’t know what the new traditions will be, I know that it’s up to me to create new ones with the children.

I won’t let the sadness of what I don’t have anymore bring me down.

I am keeping my intentions positive, and looking for local things to do to get in the Christmas spirit.

I’ve visited other towns who have had decorations put up.

I know of a tree-lighting ceremony I want to take my daughters to.

I’m taking them to my sweetheart’s musical play A Christmas Carol, to watch him play Scrooge (I’ve already seen it twice and it’s spectacular!)

I know of a newly built outdoor ice skating facility that we might try (even if we fall down a lot).

Yes, things are different this year than last. But I don’t have to let the pain of the mistakes I’ve made overshadow the joy that is still there to be found or created.

My wish for you is that no matter where you are, you enter this holiday season with hope of discovering or creating something beautiful and uplifting.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

On technology and communication

I came across this article on my favorite facebook page, Brain Pickings:

 

“Previous technologies have expanded communication. But the last round may be contracting it.”

I shared it, and someone else picked it up and reposted it.   I wanted to share what I wrote about it:

I used to be an avid, okay maybe obsessive, pen-pal. I have written hundreds of hand-written letters to friends and boyfriends. I kept in touch with my first love long after we broke up while he was in the Navy for four years. I was thrilled to get letters from my friend in the Peace Corp when he was stationed in Belize. I wrote friends who were away at different colleges from me.


But I also wrote thousands of email letters over the past 10 years. Letters just as beautiful, and maybe even more so, since I could easily write 1000 words using the keyboard without my hand hurting and have access to links to my blog if I wanted to illustrate my points further with other writings I have breathed into existence, or photographs I’ve taken or artwork I’ve created. I can’t do that in a snail mail letter.

 

I have reached out to some wonderful people in Greece and Australia and Canada and Maine and Tennessee and have been enriched by their friendship, who have the gift of the written word and some amazing life stories and wisdom to share. My reach is a hell of a lot farther thanks to technology. So I recognize it’s not all bad.

I still have a great urge to express myself through the written word, WHEN I have the time to sit and spill out (and when I do, it’s glorious). And I think that this passage is mostly why I shared this article:

She considers the sense of loss, nebulous in its precise object but undeniably palpable, that many of us feel in bearing witness to and partaking in this profound shift in the human experience:

“I think it is for a quality of time we no longer have, and that is hard to name and harder to imagine reclaiming. My time does not come in large, focused blocks, but in fragments and shards. The fault is my own, arguably, but it’s yours too — it’s the fault of everyone I know who rarely finds herself or himself with uninterrupted hours. We’re shattered. We’re breaking up.

It’s hard, now, to be with someone else wholly, uninterruptedly, and it’s hard to be truly alone. The fine art of doing nothing in particular, also known as thinking, or musing, or introspection, or simply moments of being, was part of what happened when you walked from here to there, alone, or stared out the train window, or contemplated the road, but the new technologies have flooded those open spaces. Space for free thought is routinely regarded as a void and filled up with sounds and distractions.”

[as an aside, I’ve taken two cross-country trips by train from Indiana to Colorado, and it was a wonderful experience. Everyone should take a long-distance train ride at least once in their lives.]

This is what bothers me the most. Not that I don’t do this. I most certainly do. But less so now that my husband left me and I have full responsibility of the house and my daughters when they are with me. I don’t have large stretches of uninterrupted hours like I did when I was a stay-at-home mom.

I have an off day from work at the laboratory (I’m a diagnostic technician in a microbiology laboratory). And what am I doing? Cleaning the house? Shopping for food?

No, I’m thinking and writing. I’m reaching out to a few people via facebook. I have precisely two friends right now that will drop everything to go and meet me for coffee and conversation. The only other way I have of reaching people is through the internet. And for that I’m glad. And I’ll use facebook to write just as much as I would my blog, or my emails, or writing hand-written letters and journals.

I have filled the hours this morning with some beautiful words, on other people’s pages, and my own. I filled it not with 30 second sound bites or the latest political blather, but with some melancholic introspection of the approaching holidays. I filled it will some loving support for a young Facebook friend who says the color from his life has faded, just a little bit. And I’ve enjoyed sharing here, on my blog. Mostly for my own enjoyment, though I hope it aMuses someone else, too.

I think without being able to use my words and reach others through this technological medium, I could not bear it.  I would be dying of unbearable loneliness right now.

But I don’t have to.  And for that, I’m eternally grateful to technology.  I will master and lay claim to this technology and make it a vehicle for the expansion, not contraction of my life.

I love you all.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment